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The Jack Nicholson Bio

The Jack Nicholson Review – MovieActors.com

by Nate Lee

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Best Films:

Chinatown / As Good As It Gets /
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

For a guy as prolific as Nicholson, having three bests isn't asking much. It's actually rare when "best film" means all three: best quality film; best performance; and major contribution to the film's success. And for such remarkably different films. "Chinatown" is generally considered the finest screenplay ever, and still, Nicholson owns the film. "Cuckoo's Nest" was also a classic before he actually remade it in his own image, with a character that is the extreme opposite of the cool detective Jake Gittes. Then, years later, all that comic insanity becomes real insanity, manifested in a guy who can't step on cracks and practically scalds himself with washing his hands. Still angry, and truly "as good as it gets."
Great Performances You May Not Have Seen:
About Schmidt (Oscar-nominated and Golden Globe-winning performance as a retired guy trying to interfere with his daughter's marriage plans, opposite Kathy Bates)
The Pledge (a retired police detective obsessed with finding a young girl's killer)
Something's Gotta Give (Golden Globe-nominated performance as a sixty-something swinger, repulsed by Diane Keaton)
Goin' South (horse thief saved from hanging by Mary Steenburgen, much to his regret)
Ironweed (Oscar and Golden Globe-nominated performance as an alcoholic ex-ballplayer, with Meryl Streep)
The Crossing Guard (embittered alcoholic, with Anjelica Huston)
The Missouri Breaks (a rustler facing off against Marlon Brando)
The Border (El Paso border guard on the take)
How do you Know? (Paul Rudd's father)
Blockbusters:
Terms of Endearment (Oscar and Golden Globe-winning performance as an ex-astronaut, opposite Shirley MacLaine)
The Bucket List (rich guy on one last adventure, with Morgan Freeman)
Reds (Oscar and Golden Globe-nominated performance as Eugene O'Neill)
The Postman Always Rings Twice (drifter having an affair and plotting murder with Jessica Lange)
The Departed (Golden Globe-nominated performance as a ruthless mob chief)
A Few Good Men (Oscar and Golden Globe-nominated performance as a Marine Colonel in charge of Guantanamo base)
Post-Corman, Pre-Cuckoo Classic Jack:
Chinatown (Oscar-nominated and Golden Globe-winning performance as gumshoe Jake Gittes)
Easy Rider (Oscar and Golden Globe-nominated performance as a backseat rider and disaffected lawyer)
Five Easy Pieces (Oscar and Golden Globe-nominated performance as a disaffected roughneck)
Carnal Knowledge (Golden Globe-nominated performance as disaffected sexual male, with Art Garfunkel,)
The King of Marvin Gardens (disaffected radio deejay trying to help brother Bruce Dern)
The Last Detail (Oscar and Golden Globe-nominated performance as a Navy guy hauling Randy Quaid to prison)
The Passenger (a disaffected reporter who takes a dead guy's identity)
Tommy (Tommy's psychiatrist)
Crazy Jack:
As Good as it Gets (Oscar, SAG and Golden Globe-winning performance as an obsessive-compulsive mean writer)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Oscar and Golden Globe-winning performance as Randall McMurphy, shaking up a psych ward)
The Shining (writer Jack, driven to homicidal insanity by a hotel)
Anger Management (bizarre psychiatrist treating Adam Sandler)
The Little Shop of Horrors
The Lovable Bad Guy:
Prizzi's Honor (Oscar-nominated and Golden Globe-winning performance as a comic mob hit man, opposite hit woman Kathleen Turner, and Anjelica Huston)
Witches of Eastwick (the devil, conjured up by Michelle Pfeiffer, Susan Sarandon and Cher)
Batman (Golden Globe-nominated performance as the Joker)
Hoffa (Golden Globe-nominated performance as the missing mob-connected labor dude)
Wolf (a disaffected book editor who becomes a werewolf, opposite Michelle Pfeiffer)
The Real Jack Nicholson:
Something's Gotta Give / The Bucket List

For a guy who doesn't do interviews, it seems that everything is known about Jack, or maybe just everything that's interesting. He loves his reputation as a ladies man, and it fits him right down to his strange upbringing where his mother posed as his sister. That, and obsession with the Lakers, and collecting art, and no wives.
Acting Style:
The bad boy. The disaffected young man turned crazy, who can take time out to rock you with something serious. Even when he's not crazy, he's angry.
Bits and Quirks:
Puhleez. You know them, from the grin and the eyebrow to the psycho stare to the cocky head moves to the serious roles where he puts all that stuff into a twittering wrist. The one you may not realize is a penchant for talking slowly.
Great Scenes:
The Bucket List

> Skydiving with Morgan Freeman
> Giving Morgan the pitch in the hospital
> Racing Morgan
> Talking on top of the Great Pyramid
> Arguing with Morgan in front of his daughter's house

Prizzi's Honor

> The duel at the end with Kathleen Turner
> The end, with Angelica Huston

Chinatown

> The interview with John Huston
> Getting his nose sliced
> Slapping Faye Dunaway into revealing the truth
> The chase in the orchard
> Finding the glasses in the pool

As Good As It Gets

> The diner scene with Helen Hunt
> Putting the dog down the chute
> Washing his hands
> Not stepping on cracks
> The "as good as it gets" line in the psychiatrist's office

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

> The boat trip
> Trying to lift the water fountain
> The hands up vote
> Playing cards
> The interview with the head psychiatrist
> The basketball game with the Chief
> Coming back after shock treatment, both times

Batman

> Reveal of the face

The Shining

> Here's Johnny
> the chase with the axe

Easy Rider

> Talking about Mardi Gras while sharing a drink with Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper
> Meeting in the jail cell
> Around the campfire, talking about being free

A Few Good Men

> The "you can't handle the truth" speech, in his show-down with Tom Cruise
If you like Jack Nicholson You probably didn't like:
Heartburn
Mars Attacks
Go to the... Jack Nicholson Bio